How COVID-19 caused the future of work to arrive early

How COVID-19 caused the future of work to arrive early

To what extent is the pandemic-induced regime of remote work, flexible hours and AI-enabled software here to stay?
6 min.
June 2020

Predicting the future of work is hard when you’re still in the midst of the catastrophe. It is clear, though, that “futuristic” trends are emerging, having been catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The big question is to what degree they will survive the crisis.

Although the technology to facilitate remote work has been around for over a decade, COVID-19 has forced hundreds of millions of employers and employees worldwide to engage in a sudden, massive, real-time experiment with remote work arrangements.

In 2012, just 39% of US employees worked off-site at least some of the time. By 2016, that figure had risen to 43%. As of mid-April, however, 62% of US employees are working from home because of fears about the coronavirus.  Similar remote work statistics are observed in other parts of the world. 

Because of the pandemic, millions more workers are discovering the joys (and hassles) that accompany working from home. On the plus side, there is more freedom, more flexible hours and more streamlined morning commutes. On the minus side, there are possibly more distractions and disruptions, and the lack of physical interaction with colleagues could lead to anxiety, grief and even depression.

Humans are inherently social animals who are biologically hard-wired for spending quality time with each other, and who typically don’t fare well during prolonged periods of extreme isolation.


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